It was a series that promised to challenge Yuno Gasai of Mirai Nikki fame in terms of being a show about a yandere. With a misleading title like Happy Sugar Life, it made you wonder if it was capable of doing just that. After going through the twelve episodes of this show has to offer, I too, am wondering if Satou Matsuzaka was able to stand tall next to Yuno!
The story of Happy Sugar Life involves a teenage girl named Satou Matsuzaka who stumbles across an abandoned child named Shio Koube. She takes her in and becomes absolutely infatuated with her to the point of beyond obsession. The show starts off light and fluffy, making you think that this is an anime about teen girls being in love and their normal everyday lives; however, all of that turns dark at the end of the first episode when you realize that Satou’s apartment isn’t hers. She basically hijacked it from the person who used to live there… who is now sitting in a room in a couple of bloody trash bags!
That’s the story of the entire show… Satou’s love for Shio and how she would do ANYTHING to protect that love. It’s a very simple and straightforward premise with not a lot of depth. Rather than build up a deep-rooted story with many twists and turns, the show relies heavily on its cast of sadistic characters and shock value in order to keep you watching each episode. That’s a really risqué formula to use and, for me, it doesn’t quite work out all that well.
Of course, we do end up getting some backstories for all of our characters but, let’s be honest here, you’re not watching to show to find out about people like Mitsuboshi or Asahi. You’re watching to show to see when Satou goes completely off the deep end (I mean even more than she already has) and does some messed up stuff to our cast of characters. It’s like the movie Final Destination. You’re not watching to see the history of the characters… you’re just watching to see how creative the team gets in killing them off one by one.
Sadly, Happy Sugar Life never gets to that part until the very end of the series and even still, it’s extremely limited to one character. The rest of the time, you’re just bouncing between character to character and learning just how messed up everyone is in this anime. It’s not exactly what I was looking for out of this show and the lack of story in favor of uninteresting characters caused me to skip this show for several weeks before sighing because I knew I had to binge watch to get this review out.
So since this show is heavily relying on its cast of characters, let’s take a look at them one by one.
Satou is a freshman in high school and works a job at a restaurant as a server in order to make money to support her happy sugar life with Shio. She refers to her life as such because she likens things like love and good feelings to a jar of candy living inside of her and if things don’t go the way she would like them to, that jar breaks and all the candy is gone, leaving a bitterness behind. She seems like a normal girl on the outside but once you interfere with her little happy life, she turns very cold and daunting. She is not afraid to give a stern lecture but if you cross her enough and REALLY intervene with her life, she will not hesitate to end your life.
Her love for Shio is psychotic but I still think that they were trying way too hard to push her as a yandere character. None of it really felt natural. She didn’t do crazy because she was crazy but rather she did crazy because just for the sake of being a crazy character. What I mean by that is there are no little nuances that she did that made the crazy part of her seem natural and I think that boils down to the show’s writing. While watching the show, you know when the situation changes and you’re left sitting there like “Welp, time for Satou to act crazy.” In comparison to Yuno, she just did things on a whim… such as kissing Yuki right out of the blue. She had those impulsive mannerisms about her and she played the role of the yandere perfectly. Satou, on the other hand, everything felt scripted.. like a switch being turned on or off and that felt robotic more than natural.
Also, since his part was very minimalistic, I’ll just add a footnote here that Satou’s teacher, Daichi Kitaumekawa, is a pedophile… and yes… he tries to pick up Satou at one point and yes… he ends up becoming used by her which is something they should have ran with but they didn’t. More missed opportunity.
Shio is a girl who comes from a broken home. Her father was a drunk and abusive, her mother felt that it was Shio’s fault that things were like the way they were so she abandoned her, and her brother is deranged in the sense that he will stop at nothing to find her to the point where he, himself, has gone a bit mad. After being discovered by Satou, Shio grows attached to her and the two of them complete each other’s happy sugar life… right down to the part where they even exchange wedding vows to each other on a nightly basis.
Shio also has a dual personality as her past haunts her from time to time, giving her sudden and severe headaches. This, sometimes, clouds her judgment and she ends up getting herself into a situation about halfway through the show because of it. Part of it was due to her attachment to Satou and her part experience with abandonment.
I couldn’t really buy into the Shio character either. While I do think that they did a good job conveying things from a child’s perspective, for some reason, I just couldn’t get into the character. Shio was cute in her own ways and her traumatic experiences reflected on her well but there was just something about the character that didn’t allow me to connect with it.
Taiyo is a server that works with Satou at the restaurant. The two of them worked at a previous job together where the manager was jealous of the fact that Taiyo had a crush on Satou, so she kidnapped him and forced him to be her sex slave. Satou eventually discovers the truth and rescues Taiyo but when Taiyo discovers Shio through her brother’s mission person flyers, he, also, becomes obsessed with Shio, going as far as to call her his angel… despite never meeting her.
Taiyo becomes so obsessed with Shio that it’s reminiscent of a drug addict going through withdrawal. I couldn’t understand how someone could become that infatuated with someone based off of a single, solitary photo on a missing person’s flyer. Of course, during the whole incident, I eluded to earlier when talking about Shio, the two of them cross paths and this pushes Taiyo’s obsession with her over to the edge… so much so that it plays a role in the ending to the show.
If any character in this show had an over-the-top personality that came from out of left field, it’s Taiyo. I understand his character was meant to be taken seriously but I couldn’t. He seemed more like comic relief than a threat and while you did feel sorry for him in the beginning, once his obsession comes to light, you simply end up rolling your eyes because it’s at this point you begin to realize that everyone in this show is messed up in some form or another. Taiyo really was an unnecessary character. You could subtract him from the show entirely and with a couple of light edits, nothing about the show would have changed that much. That’s how little he really meant to the overall scheme of things.
Dare I say that Asahi was one of the more “normal” characters of the show. His father used to torture him by ripping off his fingernails. He sent him on beer runs to feed his alcoholism, and was just generally, super abusive to him. One day, his father died and he used that opportunity to devote his time to finding Shio, who ran away with her mother, leaving Asahi behind to deal with the father. His goals are, indeed, noble. He simply wants to find his sister and reunite them together as a family; however, his obsession with finding Shio later shows just how deranged he becomes… going so far as to use people for information… and by use, I mean use excessive force to decisively convince them to help him.
The funny part is that they actually try to build a last-minute romance between him and one other character, but it was only there as a last-ditch effort to get you to care about said other character before the show killed them off. They used an out-of-the-blue romance tease as a death flag sympathy card.
She’s Satou’s co-worker and friend. Despite the fact that she was in love with Satou and wanted a lesbian relationship with her, she actually seemed the most normal out of the entire cast of characters. She played the friend role perfectly and even though her lesbian love was a little out of the blue and (of course) creepy at one point, she didn’t become obsessive with Satou afterward. She simply accepted it and moved on with her life while remaining Satou’s friend. The shocking part about her entire existence is the fact that she wasn’t as crazy as the rest of the cast. A normal person in this show is like finding a red grape mixed in with a bag of green grapes. Crazy is the norm here so the red grape sticks out but it’s the one you prefer because it’s different… even though normalcy is what’s different in this show.
All around, decent character. Played the part of screen filler when she needed to and became part of the plot at the end but then again, so did all of the other characters in way, shape, or form.
And I’ve saved the best for last…
What is love? Baby, please hurt me! Please hurt me… some more!
Okay, terrible song parody aside, that pretty much sums up Satou’s aunt. Satou’s aunt is the kind of person who “loves” everyone… especially men who she enjoys having sex with… and gets pleasure from having the absolute bejeezus beaten out of her. So much so that she spends the entire show covered in bandages all while keeping a happy little smile on her face. She’s absolutely batshit crazy and is the type of character who isn’t afraid to flaunt it. Heck, she even tried to get it on with a police officer who came to her apartment because Daichi suspected something about Satou and decided to investigate. How she never got arrested for making those kinds of moves on a law enforcement officer is beyond me.
Despite how screwed up she was, she was my absolute favorite character because her craziness brought some of the best entertainment to the show. I won’t spoil the reason why she said this but at the end when she looks into a TV camera and goes “Hi! It was me!” so casually, happily, and nonchalantly, I nearly lost it, I laughed so hard. I think Satou’s aunt saved this show because every time she was on camera it was hilarious to watch. Like Taiyo, I think she was meant to be taken seriously but you just couldn’t.
I wouldn’t mind a spinoff show based on her. Just saying. She was the real happy sugar life of this show.
Art, Animation, & Sound
Art and animation wise… it was okay at best. The budget seemed to have been saved for the opening and closing minutes of the series with the rest being pretty average at best. Ezola was the studio behind this show and based on some quick research, it appears that Happy Sugar Life was their very first project. I have to say that it’s not bad for a first project but things could have been a little bit better. The character designs felt a bit flat even though each character did stand out in their own ways. None of the characters felt like they were in the background so they were unique enough in that sense.
Some of the animation was hit or miss… kind of like the big scene at the end where you could definitely tell where the budget was used versus where it wasn’t.
As for the sound, I couldn’t really connect with the OST and the fact that I’m sitting here straining to remember one track that stood out is a testament to how forgettable it was. The opening theme song; however, did stand out and I felt captured the feel of this anime perfectly. With it having that upbeat J-Pop intro only to dissolve into ramblings and madness was a nice touch but when you think back on it, the sudden change in styles in the opening theme reflected the sudden changes in mood from scene to scene in the show. It’s almost like they were trying to warn us or something…
Happy Sugar Life is an average show at best that isn’t going to knock Yuno Gasai off of her yandere throne. In fact, the show itself is a joy to watch if you’re just looking for something to pass the time but it’s not good enough to the point where it’s going to make you want to watch the next episode. Sure, towards the end they tried to turn up the drama factor to reel you in but it was a little too late for all of that. Some of the story points felt like they existed to simply exist and the show missed a ton of opportunity to run with some of those plots to spice up the main story.
Had they intertwined all of the characters into a giant web of deceit, rather than focus on them individually and call upon them as needed, this show would have been ten times better but that’s not really a fault of the studio but more or less the source material and the writer himself. The show tries to sell itself on chunks of shock value but none of it isn’t really shocking. By the time you get to the fourth episode, you start to see the basic formula for the show and you feel let down that the formula never really changed in the end.
I don’t want anyone to mince my words here because the show wasn’t terrible to the point where you HAVE to skip it… it’s just a decent show that whether you watch it or don’t isn’t really going to have that much of a major impact on your life.
Happy Sugar Life
Happy Sugar Life tries to win you over through its shocking characters while offering a meager story; however, the formula doesn’t seem to work all that well. While it’s not a terrible a show, it’s not something to write home about either. It’s the type of show that can be enjoyed if you need to kill time but you won’t lose any sleep if you pass over this one.
- Good character design
- Satou’s Aunt
- Dull story
- Shocking moments seem forced instead of natural
- Yuno Gasai exists, therefore Satou will never be best yandere